There is a growing body of evidence that the step-to-step variations present in human walking are related to the biomechanics of the locomotive system. However, we still have limited understanding of what biomechanical variables influence the observed nonlinear gait variations. It is necessary to develop reliable models that closely resemble the nonlinear gait dynamics in order to advance our knowledge in this scientific field. Previously, Goswami et al. [1998. A study of the passive gait of a compass-like biped robot: symmetry and chaos. International Journal of Robotic Research 17(12)] and Garcia et al. [1998. The simplest walking model: stability, complexity, and scaling. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 120(2), 281-288] have demonstrated that passive dynamic walking computer models can exhibit a cascade of bifurcations in their gait pattern that lead to a deterministic nonlinear gait pattern. These computer models suggest that the intrinsic mechanical dynamics may be at least partially responsible for the deterministic nonlinear gait pattern; however, this has not been shown for a physical walking robot. Here we use the largest Laypunov exponent and a surrogation analysis method to confirm and extend Garcia et al.'s and Goswami et al.'s original results to a physical passive dynamic walking robot. Experimental outcomes from our walking robot further support the notion that the deterministic nonlinear step-to-step variations present in gait may be partly governed by the intrinsic mechanical dynamics of the locomotive system. Furthermore the nonlinear analysis techniques used in this investigation offer novel methods for quantifying the nature of the step-to-step variations found in human and robotic gait. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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